If you love Twitter but want a way to organize your timeline and manage your activity more effectively, there, you may want to give Tweetdeck a try. Tweetdeck is free, and it’s owned by Twitter. To set up and use Tweetdeck, simply go to Tweetdeck.com and log in using your Twitter account. One of the first things you’ll notice is how Tweetdeck divides your timeline into several columns. By default, it sets up several of these for you – but you can remove or customize them all to suit your needs. Here’s a sample:
To add a new column, click the + icon in the leftmost sidebar. To see all the filter options for each column type, click the filter icon at the upper right corner of the column.
Home Stream, @Mentions, and Notifications
The Home stream or column moves quickly if you follow a lot of people! It can be daunting to try to keep up as it automatically refreshes with new tweets. I like to focus first on @Mentions, because those are tweets that people have specifically directed at me, and are more likely to need attention or a reply. Notifications is similar, and can contain @Mentions, but loses some of the focus as it includes other notifications as well, such as when someone follows you or engages with your tweets. I like to keep the two separate.
Searching Twitter with TweetDeck
The Search column is a powerful way to focus on the content that most interests you, whether it’s from people you follow or everyone on Twitter. In the screenshot shown above, I’m looking for tweets that mention either “picture books” or “young adult.” Note that the quotation marks are required if you want to search for an exact phrase, such as “picture books.” If I start picking up a lot of spam or the wrong kind of tweets (such as “young adult sex”) I can exclude words (like “sex”) and further refine the filters until I’m seeing the results I’m interested in.
You can use the Boolean operators AND or OR. For example:
dogs OR cats – to get tweets containing mention of either dogs or cats (or both!)
library AND houston – to get tweets that mention both library and Houston
(library OR libraries) AND houston – to expand the above search to include plural mention of libraries, as well as “library.” Note that how you group the words in parentheses matters; if you searched: library OR (libraries AND houston) – you would see any mention of “library” but only mentions of “libraries” that also contain the word “houston”.
The Exclude field acts as a BUT NOT operator – you’ll see everything you asked for in the search terms unless the tweet contains the terms you exclude.
You can filter the Home column with search terms, too – the difference is that on the Home column, the search only applies to tweets from people you follow. On the Search column, it applies to all tweets – it searches the whole stream from the Twitter firehose. You can use this to find new, interesting people to follow on Twitter, based on the fact that they’re tweeting about topics that interest you.
Scheduling Tweets with TweetDeck
Scheduling tweets is, of course, one of the most popular features of TweetDeck. You should use this sparingly – automating too much on social media starts to come across as “I’ll have my bot call your bot to set up lunch.” It’s the exact opposite of meaningful engagement, and it is anything but “social.” Still, there’s a time and a place. Things that can be good to automate:
- Birthday greetings, if you’re particularly bad about remembering such things (Caution: bad idea if the birthday boy dies in a horrific car crash a week before the tweet goes live!
- Book launch (or other product release) notices – no more than 1-3 times a day, interspersed with more sociable tweets and tweets promoting others!
- News! (No, really – news. Not click-baity, non-newsworthy, not-news-at-all “news.” Careful about prematurely congratulating politicians or commenting on celebrity relationships, among other things.)
- Questions or polls for your followers – but follow up in person to encourage participation. (Caution: See CDC fail, below!)
- Event notices and invitations (time-sensitive stuff you might otherwise forget to tweet in a timely manner- but avoid getting cute in ways the cosmos might laugh at).
- Tweets and retweets of others’ “evergreen” content (it’s okay to plan these in advance, but try to give them a personal touch so people will continue to pay attention to you!)
Remember to keep an eye on your scheduled tweets in light of current events in the world, to avoid coming across as an insensitive moron. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s an example:
.@CDCgov I don't see the "We fucked up on Ebola: Agree/Disagree/Unsure" check box on your survey.
Did I miss it? #EbolaInAmerica
Consider all the ways even the most innocent of automated tweets might just come back like a grackle to poop all over your marketing campaign like it was a shiny new car parked under a tree. Still want to schedule that tweet? Timing (can be) everything.
If the words “insensitive” and “tone-deaf” still have you scratching your head, check out the examples in 19 Companies That Made Huge Social Media Fails, Worst Scheduled Tweet Timing. Ever., or 10 Worst Social Media Fails of the Year So Far (#4 is my favorite). Never try to mix national or world tragedy with humor, hashtags, or cute marketing gimmicks.
I’ve Been Warned, Dammit, Now Just Show Me HOW!
Okay, fine. Click the + to add a Scheduled tweet column.
Open up the tweet box (top icon on the leftmost sidebar).
Compose your tweet and click each of your Twitter accounts that will send the tweet at the appointed time.
Add an image if you want to. Click the date and time bar as shown below. Enter the time (hours, minutes, and don’t forget to choose AM or PM!), then click a date (today or in the future):
You may need to refresh the browser window (or just wait a bit), but your Scheduled tweets will show up in the Scheduled tweet column:
You can edit or delete them until they go live. After that, all bets are off.
Tweeting from Multiple Accounts
You can set up all your Twitter accounts here and use Tweetdeck instead of logging in and out of your accounts to tweet from (or keep track of @Mentions to) all of them. This is where TweetDeck really shines.
I do strongly recommend that if you are using this for both personal and work-related accounts, you toggle on that “Confirmation step” (on the work related accounts, at least) to avoid cross-posting inappropriately. It will at least slow you down.
If you run a Team account, you can authorize others to tweet from it without them having to know the account password. This is particularly smart if you’re using Twitter for business, and allows you to maintain full control of the account without risk of a rogue team member changing the password and locking you out.
For more information on using TweetDeck, see the official TweetDeck documentation at Twitter.